My final bucket-list post features the wonderful rose gardens of Italy and Germany, starting with one of the most famous romantic rose gardens of all time:
Ninfa (Giardini di Ninfa)
Via Provinciale Ninfina, 68, 04012 Cisterna di Latina LT, Italy Near Sermonetta
Ninfa has been described as one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world. In fact, Monty Don states in his video, Italian Gardens (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y8wh7Xqw7U, at the 2:48:20-2:56:0 mark), that he considers it to be THE most romantic garden in the world!
It is located in the province of Latina, 40 miles south-west of Rome (one hour drive), at the foot of the Lepina Mountains, from which numerous springs run down to form a small lake, which feeds into a river, which runs through the centre of the town, which was surrounded by marshlands.
Ninfa was an ancient Etruscan town, founded in the 8th Century, by the Volscians and named after a small temple near the springs, dedicated to the Nymph goddess, Ninfa. During the Middle Ages, it was a rich merchant stopover between Rome and Naples on the Appian Way. It included a 12th century castle; seven churches; palazzos; medieval clock towers; a town hall, mills, bakeries, a blacksmith; a 1400 metre long defensive wall, bridges, two hospices; and 2000 people living in 150 homes. It was acquired by the Caetani family in 1298.
In 1381, the town was sacked by mercenaries and pillaged by neighbouring towns during a civil war, caused by a schism in the Roman Catholic Church. Attempts to resettle were thwarted by outbreaks of malaria and gradually, the town was abandoned and overgrown with ivy and weeds. It lay sleeping for six centuries, still attracting the odd visitor for its melancholic air, like Edward Lear in 1840, who also described it as one of the most romantic visions in Italy.
In 1921, Gelasio Caetani, the second youngest son of Prince Onorata Caetani and his English-born wife, Ada Wilbraham, drained the marshes; cleared the undergrowth, weeds and ivy; restored some of the medieval buildings, in particular, the tower and town hall, for a Summer residence; and started a garden in the romantic English Landscape style.
His sister-in-law, Marguerite Chapin (1880-1963), who was married to musician, Roffredo Caetani, in 1911, planted on a grand scale with thousands of trees and shrubs, imported from from all over the world, including fastigiate cypress, Chamaecyparis sempervirens; holm oaks (Quercus ilex); poplars; beeches; crab apples; prunus; magnolias; camellias; rhododendrons; and roses. Their daughter Leila continued her work after World War II, leaving the garden to the Roffredo Caetani Foundation.
While the whole park is 105 hectares (260 acres), the garden is 8 hectares (20 acres) and is managed organically by a curator and six full-time gardeners. It is only open 25 days a year between April and October and attracts 70 000 visitors a year. Guided tours of up to 20 visitors are conducted on a prescribed path 10 to 15 minutes apart and last 1.5 hours. It is best in April and May for rose lovers!
It is a gorgeous wild garden, which thrives with the rich well-drained moist soil, benign Winter temperatures and hot Summers. Plants ramble over ruined towers, walls and archways and overhang the stream.
Other trees include: Stone pine, Pinus pinea; Judas trees; Ribbonwood, Hoheria sexstylosa (New Zealand); wattles; birch; hawthorne; liquidambars; Persian Silk Tree , Albizia julibrissin; Dragon’s Claw Willow, Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’; walnuts; weeping cherries; maples like Acer griseum; Himalayan and Mexican Pines; American walnuts; Gingko biloba; Catalpas; Dogwoods; Casuarina tenuissima; and banana trees.
Other shrubs include: bamboos; papyrus; buddleja; viburnums; smoke bush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Flame’; Photinia serrulata; lavenders andMagnolia stellata.
Climbers include Clematis armandi; star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides; Wisteria floribunda ‘Macrobotrys’ and climbing hydrangea, H. petiolaris.
Hazelnuts; Acer saccharinum; Liriodendron tuilpifera, Arum lilies, Iris and Gunnera manicata line the river.
Other plantings include: Salvias; lilies; cannas; anemones; alliums; Iris; Acanthis mollis; and ferns.
The rock garden contains Iberis; Eschscholzia; Veronica; Golden Alyssum; Aquilegia; Dianthus and Pomegranates.
There are over 200 different roses including: a hedge of 100 plants of R. roxburghii plena; R. hugonis; R. bracteata; American Pillar; Banksia rose; R. filipes ‘Kiftsgate’; Rambling Rector; Paul’s Himalayan Musk; Mme Alfred Carrière and Gloire de Dijon; Général Schablikine; Mutabilis; Complicata; Iceberg; Max Graf; The Garland; Desprez à Fleurs Jaunes; Seagull; Comtesse du Cayla; Dr W Van Fleet; Cramoisi Supérieur; R. brunonii ‘La Mortola’; Rêve d’Or; David Austin roses and Hybrid Musks: Penelope; Vanity; Ballerina and Buff Beauty. Penelope is such a beautiful romantic rose, I have chosen it as my feature photo for Ninfa (see below)!
Ninfa is on the flyway for migrating birds between Africa and Europe and 152 birds have been sighted. In 1976, under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 2000 acres were set aside for a wildlife sanctuary with brush plantings and the creation of more wetlands, as well as re-establishing 15 ha (37 acres) of native vegetation. The river contains brown and Mediterranean trout populations.
If you would like to read more about Ninfa, Charles Quest-Ritson wrote Ninfa: the Most Romantic garden in the World in 2009.Because I adore the rose Mutabilis, I would have to include La Landriana on my bucket list!
Via Campo di Carne, 51, 00040, Tor San Lorenzo, Ardea (Roma)
A few kilometres from Rome, in the city of Ardea, this 10 ha garden is owned by the Marquise Lavinia Tavernain, who started it from scratch in 1956. She commissioned Sir Russell Page to design a series of themed rooms, arranged in a geometric pattern.
There are 23 different areas in the garden with many Australian and South African plants due to the maritime Mediterranean climate. They are separated by clipped hedges of Buxus sempervirens; Viburnum tinus and Laurus nobilis.
The house is covered in climbers including roses: R. laevigata; R. banksiae lutea; and R. bracteata ‘Mermaid’, as well as Solanum jasminoides; Solanum crispa; Vitis coignetiae and Vitis ‘Brant’.
There is a pergola covered with Wisteria sinensis and Rosa bracteata, as well as a lily pool and a water fountain.
It is worth consulting the map on the website for an idea of the different garden areas, but for this post, I will be concentrating on the roses, of which there are 350 different varieties, contained mainly in the Rooms of the Rose; the White Walk; the Antique Rose Valley; and Valley of Roses Mutabilis.
Rooms of the Rose: Hundreds of plants of Bonica 82 are planted beneath olive trees and a Pinus pinea along this cobbled walkway, interplanted with Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Queen’;
White Walk: Flanked by Hybrid Musk, Penelope, and semi-procumbent Seafoam; and many white and grey plants, including Romneya coulterii and Carpenteria californica, with Mme Alfred Carrière in the background;
Antique Rose Valley: A large informal area with wide grass walkways between irregular beds and borders of different shapes and sizes, crammed with roses, underplanted with lavender, nepeta, pinks and Pavonia hastata. They include:
Rugosas (eg Blanc Double de Coubert; and Sarah Van Fleet); Gallicas; Damasks; Centifolias and Mosses; Portlands (eg Jacques Cartier; Comte de Chambord; and Rose de Rescht); Hybrid Musks (eg Prosperity; Cornelia; and Moonlight); David Austin roses (eg Abraham Darby; Claire Rose; and Mary Rose); and finally, there is …
The Valley of Roses Mutabilis: 300 bushes of 2 metre high Mutabilis are grown en masse in huge drifts with mown walkways between. Their peachy-pink, yellow, orange and crimson single open flowers bloom right through to Christmas, giving the appearance of a host of butterflies hovering over a dark sea of Ophiopogon japonicus. A rare tea rose, ‘Belle Lyonnaise’ climbs up Melia azederach trees.
The garden is open to the public from April to November and there are two major plant fairs in Spring and Autumn.Il Roseto Botanico Gianfranco and Carla Fineschi
Casalone 76, 52022, Cavriglia (Arezzo),Italy 50 km south of Florence
And for those of us who cannot read or speak Italian:
Charles Quest-Ritson dedicated his book, Climbing Roses of the World, to his wife and ‘Gianfranco Fineschi, who has done more for the rose in one lifetime than the Empress Josephine herself ‘, so I would have to visit this amazing living museum, dedicated to the rose!
Professor Gianfranco (1923-2010) started his rose collection fifty years ago in 1967 on his family estate in Casalone, near Cavrigio, overlooking the Tuscan Hills. It is now the world’s largest private rose garden in the world with 6500 different species of rose, each represented by a single plant, which is tagged with its botanical name; its year of introduction to Europe and its ability to hybridize.
Roses are organized according to their scientific classification and are planted in separate beds according to their species, subspecies and hybrids, with climbers and ramblers forming division walls.
Many of the beds of modern roses are grouped according to their hybridizers eg Lens, Kordes, Harkness, Buisman, Leenders, Mc Gredy, Meilland, Poulsen, Noack, Beales, Austin, Dickson, and Verschuren. This botanical and historical emphasis makes this garden particularly valuable for rose historians.
Its reputation as the world’s largest private rose garden refers to the number of rose species in the collection, rather than the size of the garden, which is only one acre! Hence, the roses are planted very close together, which necessitates the use of chemicals to control diseases! The garden has been reopened and can be visited in May and June.
I have chosen R.brunonii as my feature photo for this garden, as well as the main feature photo for this post on Italian rose gardens, as it has a hybrid ‘La Mortola’, named after the famous Italian garden, La Mortola, in Liguria.And finally, and especially for my daughter, who is living in Germany and still hasn’t visited this amazing garden!:
On the Rosengarten 2a
06526 Sangerhausen, Germany South-West of Berlin and just west of Leipzig
http://europa-rosarium.de, translated into English at:
Sangerhausen is a huge historic public rose garden, the German equivalent of L’Hay des Roses, France, with 75 000 rose plants of over 70 classes of rose; and 8 600 rose cultivars, including 500 species roses, 1 350 historic roses, over 2 000 modern roses since the 1950s and 850 climbing roses. 2 000 cultivars are only found in Sangerhausen. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the largest collection of roses in the world!
It was proposed by rose breeder, Peter Lambert, in 1898, as a refuge for roses and rose classes at risk of oblivion with the rising dominance of the Hybrid Tea and as a genetic pool for hybridizers. Albert Hoffman donated his rose collection of 1 100 different roses as a basis for the new rosarium.
In 1899, landscape architect Friedrich Erich Doerr, Erfurt, designed a formal rose garden, which was extended to include an agricultural area in 1902. The 1.5 ha garden, at that stage owned by the German Rose Society, was opened to the public in 1903 with a collection of 1 500 roses. It was extended in 1913 to 12 ha and became a trial ground for testing new German roses prior to their introduction. By 1939, there were 5 000 roses and the site was extended again to its current size of 12.5 ha (31 acres).
Sangerhausen was kept going through the Great Depression; the Second World War and the Cold War by Richard Vogel and his son, Max. Being located in what became East Germany after World War II and the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, rosarians in the West were largely cut off from contact from it for over thirty years. The first visits from the West occurred in the early 1970s, but direct exchange and donations of roses were still not allowed, so would often reach Sangerhausen via Poland. During this time, 800 different cultivars of Polyanthas were planted together en masse for a spectacular effect and the irrigation system renewed.
The rosary was revived with the reunification of Germany. In 2003 (its 100 year anniversary), a new entrance gate with bright tourist-attracting modern roses; a restaurant and three new gardens were created, including a Jubilee Garden (a classical rosary design showing the historical development of the rose in the last 100 years); a Sea of Roses and an ADR Garden, ADR standing for Allgemeine Deutsche Rosenneuheitenprufung, the group which conducts rose trials, assessing roses over three years for disease-resistance; hardiness; attractiveness; and habit and judging 50 new cultivars annually.
Since then, a Rose Information Centre with a lecture hall and souvenir shop; a glasshouse conservatory for the more tender roses; and a fragrance garden has been opened. There is also an arboretum of over 250 rare trees and shrubs and an outdoor theatre.
Situated 170 metres above sea level on the scenic mountain slopes of the Southern Harz, with an average annual rainfall of 500 mm and a continental climate of hot dry Summers and minimum Winter temperatures of Minus 20 degrees Celsius, it would need a glasshouse for some of the more delicate Tea and China roses!
No chemical pesticides have been used since 1997 and the garden is managed by 27 gardeners. It is now owned by the City of Sangerhausen. In 2003, the World Federation of Rose Societies awarded Sangerhausen an Award of Garden Excellence.
The main blooming season for the Old Roses (pre-1867) is from the end of May to the middle of June, but other roses bloom till October, followed by a superb display of rose hips. Apparently, the old city entrance is very romantic with all the old roses in bloom.
Sangerhausen attracts a huge number of visitors. The garden had over 132 000 visitors in 2009 alone! On the last weekend in June, there is a Festival of Mining and Roses and on the 2nd Saturday in August is a ‘Night of a Thousand Lights’ featuring fireworks, food, music and dance .
The garden is also an important research centre, being named the German Rose Gene Bank in 2009, as well as acquiring a New German Rose Library, and also is a major supplier of budwood for hybridizers.
Below is a photo of Maigold, bred by German breeding family, Kordes, in 1953. Wilhelm Kordes II was very involved in implementing ADR testing in the 1950s, so this rose is a very suitable feature rose for Sangerhausen!
I hope you have enjoyed my bucket-list of overseas gardens and that you (and I!) get to visit them some day, but here is the thing about blogging! Even if we never make it overseas again, I have had so much pleasure researching all these beautiful gardens to the extent that I almost feel that I have been there! Even though nothing can really replace the real experience, the enjoyment of such visits can be tempered by huge crowds in Summer, the peak rose blooming time, bad weather and sheer fatigue! And their websites these days are so comprehensive, so many lessons can be learnt digitally from these gardens from garden design to companion planting for roses!
For the next month, I am returning to further reviews of the books in our home library and some wonderful visual treats, with two weeks dedicated to architecture books and the following fortnight to art books, before returning to posts on today’s roses: the Hybrid Teas and Floribundas; and David Austin roses.